July 10- Mendocino County Moves Forward With Polystyrene Ban

This Tuesday, Medocino County Board of Supervisors approved the first reading an ordinance to ban expanded polystyrene disposable food ware (Brand name "Styrofoam") in all restaurants and retail-based food takeout services. It was a three to one vote, with Supervisor John Pinches dissenting, and Supervisor Carre Brown absent. The ordinance is scheduled for final adoption in two weeks, and will go into effect March 1st, 2015 if approved.

During the meeting, two important ammendments to bill were made before being passed. The first removed the Dow brand name "Styrofoam" from the ordinance, to more accurately represent all polystyrene packaging. The second created a waiver for local businesses who might be disproportionaley burdened by the cost of the new products. The waiver would allow these businesses to apply for an extension for more compliance time. However, Supervisor McCowen reportedly noted that many businesses have already made the switch, and offered that worried businesses could add a small surcharge to make up the costs. Supervisor Gjerde agreed and says "the public is ahead of this ordinance."

In addition to its adverse environmental impacts, polystyrene is not readily recyclable. This was Supervisor Hamburg's main concern, considering the fact that he has avidly "been recycling in Mendocino county for a long time and still ha[s]n't found anybody who will take polystyrene foam."

Despite his no vote, Supervisor John Pinches agreed with his fellow supervisors that reducing container waste is necessary, but simply wanted more time "to review all the underlying issues". With continued discussion, hopefully all of the supervisors will be on board for the second reading at the next scheduled meeting.

With concerns over environmental impacts and recyling, backed by a supportive coalition of government, progressive businesses, and the public, it seems it's polystyrene's time to go in Mendocino County.

Learn more about Polystyrene takeout food packaging pollution

Photo Credit: Save Our Shores